by Ian McNulty
Derek Lintern picked up a few Pinot Noir barrels on a trip through Oregon not long ago. They were empty, but that was just fine for his needs. Lintern is a home brewer and those pre-loved wine barrels would become the vessels for a beer he’s dubbed “White Whine,” a Belgian-style white ale made under the influence of residual Pinot Noir.
Go to a barbecue competition and you’ll hear stories behind this team’s sauce or that contestant’s customized smoker. Go to the Crescent City Homebrewers’ upcoming Winterfest and you can hear similar stories of origin tales and technical notes and then taste the results all night long, along with plenty of food and live blues music.
Winterfest, scheduled for Nov. 5 this year at the temporary Deutsches Haus headquarters in Metairie, has long been an annual, low-key follow-up to Oktoberfest for beer geeks in the know.
The event was canceled last year, since the Deutsches Haus organization moved out of its historic clubhouse immediately after its 2010 Oktoberfest (the building was later demolished to make way for the planned LSU hospital).
But this year it’s back, and once again it will feature some 20 different beers made by members of the Crescent City Homebrewers club and others, including Lintern's White Whine. The pay-one-price admission ($26 in advance, $30 at the gate) lets you try as much as you want.
“Not only do (guests) get to try all these different beers, but there are some really unique ones that people make for this event,” says Lintern, one of the Winterfest organizers. “There will be a lot of dark beers, fruit stouts, porters, a coffee stout. Then an American pale ale, a red ale. There’s also a rum stout, made in an Old New Orleans Rum barrel.”
In addition, the group will have kegs from commercial brewers, Lintern says, including local breweries and some specialty kegs promised by local distributors friendly to the cause.
That cause would be greater familiarity with and access to quality beers, and that’s something that has been on the rise in New Orleans lately, as it has been around the country.
“Even compared to five years ago, it’s really been improving,” Lintern says. “It used to be at a beer tasting people would come up and just ask for the lightest beer or the strongest beer. But now there’s a lot more knowledge and interest and people who come really get into some discussions with the brewers.”
Admission to Winterfest also features lots and lots of German food — essentially the leftovers from the Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest event, so expect sausages, sauerkraut, potato salad, cabbage, pretzels and desserts to gird you through the extended beer sampling.
Local blues guitarist Colin Lake will perform during the evening.